(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
Since the late 1980’s CompanionLink Software has sold a very popular suite of products that have enabled mobile users to synchronize their devices (we’re talking BlackBerrys and Palm Pilots all the way to iPhones) with contact managers like Act, GoldMine, Maximizer and others.
Now, in these days of cloud, cloud, cloud, CompanionLink is not only doing synching, but it’s also getting into the contact management business…but not on the cloud. The company has launched a PC based solution called DejaOffice that costs a mere $199.95 – one time only – for five users.
The premise is this: why spend all that money on cloud-based CRMs when an inexpensive, old-school, on premise contact manager will instead do the trick?
“Offices with five or ten sales people often cannot justify the monthly cost of shared cloud CRM solutions,” Wayland Bruns, CTO at DejaOffice said in a press release. “DejaOffice bypasses this issue with a one-time purchase and offers a return to the simplicity of PC based software.”
DejaOffice offers the features that a small team would want in a good contact manager. Contacts, calendars, tasks and notes can be shared and assigned to a user or unassigned and visible to everyone. According to the company, any user can see their own calendar, or can view all calendars. When a contact or event is private, only the logged in user will see it.
More importantly, the application includes CompanionLink’s famous synching technology so that data can be moved to and stored on each individual user’s mobile device (sorry, Blackberrys are no longer supported) and can then be access without an internet connection.
The result of all this is a faster system – both in-house and on the road – that’s free of poor connections and spotty service. Bruns says that companies can be “totally in control” of its maintenance and security “and your data is not hostage to a SaaS provider.”
Of course, there are a few challenges – ones that I’ve dealt with for many years selling on premise systems.
For example, upgrades to take advantage of new features and continued compatibility on hardware will require support. Integrations with other systems will be limited. Without the cloud, data may not be available real-time. Advanced features for campaign, service and project management (to name a few) won’t be readily available. E-mail will likely need to be handled separately (DejaOffice has an Outlook add-on). For better or worse, security would be in the hands of your internal team. And synchronizing data – despite whatever a vendor may say – is never, ever perfect.
But then again…so what? If you’re a small business or have a small team, isn’t just a decent contact manager enough? Will you really use all those other features? Do you really need to integrate your system with others? Wouldn’t just a simple, inexpensive system that enables your group to share accurate contact, history, notes and calendar information take be sufficient?
For many, it just may. And for $200 (and a few bucks extra for support), it could be worth the try.